Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear brother in Islam, we commend your eagerness to become well acquainted with Islam and its teachings, which is the way Allah has chosen for the welfare of His servants.
As regards your question, we would like to say that basically watching films, plays and artistic works is permissible as long as they do not present what is contrary to Islamic teachings. Art that provokes vices and temptation is prohibited.
It is permissible to watch films that uphold virtue, morality and humane principles while maintaining the rule of lowering gazes. Islam does not go against beautiful art. On the contrary, it always encourages art that agree with pure humane nature. Art is an effective tool which could be placed at the head of the good deeds in our world only if it is perfectly used. That is why Muslims should not ignore this field, leaving it to enemies of religion and humanity.
It becomes incumbent upon all Muslim intelligentsia to make use of what Allah endows them with in reforming society. We greatly need, through films or serials, to remind the new generation about the heroic lives of Muslim reformers and scholars. Moreover, society is in great need to present good morals, history of Islam, and to provide solutions for its problems through works of art that strongly affect different classes in society.
Focusing more on the question, the late Sheikh Ahmad Ash-Sharabaasi, a prominent Azharite scholar says:
"Movie, unlike theatrical works, depends more on pictures. According to actors, acting aims at analyzing life experiences. It depicts faults as something to be avoided and highly praises virtue and calls people to adhere to it. It exposes lessons and experiences in a way that makes the message presented indirectly, through inspiration. As long as acting, either cinematic or theatrical, achieves this aim, presents morality and good taste, does not reveal private parts or provokes sexual instincts , it is deemed lawful as religion does not prohibit this kind of acting.
However, it is prohibited to watch x-rated movies or plays, as well as any form of acting that attacks religion and virtue, encourages vices, and presents what is prohibited, for this kind of acting spreads evil and corruption. This is based on the juristic rule that what leads to something prohibited is in itself prohibited, and we are ordered to block all channels of evil.
Concerning movie in particular, Al-Azhar scholars consider it a double-edged weapon, as some people use it in proper way to benefit the whole nation, upholding religion and good manners, while others misuse it, by encouraging crimes, vices, and stirring sensual, psychological, ethical and social corruption in the society.
What we need now is to employ this sophisticated technology in the service of religion, airing ethical values and spiritual principles, as well as filling the mind of the new generation with patriotism. Al-Azhar scholars urge film directors all over the world to respond to the call of religion, morality, and patriotism and produce pure and serious films that could strengthen principles of good and virtue in man. They also urge the filmmakers to encourage building social relations among people, based on religious principles, for this will help in developing art."
You can also read:
Watching Pornographic Movies
Selling Movies: Is it Permissible?
If you are still in need of more information, don't hesitate to contact us. Do keep in touch. May Allah guide us all to the straight path!